The new version of the EYLF V 2.0 tells us that “Educators who are committed to equity recognise that all children have the right to participate in inclusive early childhood settings, regardless of their circumstances, strengths, gender, capabilities or diverse ways of doing and being. They create inclusive learning environments and adopt flexible and informed practices, including making reasonable adjustments to optimise access, participation and engagement in learning. This supports wellbeing and positive outcomes for children in all their diversities” (2022, p. 17).
This is all true, but it is easy to forget that optimising access also means looking at the children who are excluded from education and care by government policies and what our role is as educators and early childhood teachers in highlighting this inclusion.
Estimates show that one such measure, the Activity Test on the Child Care Subsidy is excluding 126,000 children each year from accessing education and care. Others are restricted in how much education and care they can access in a week because of their families’, activity or work or lack thereof.
This measure, bought in by the previous government to encourage female participation in the workforce, is using children’s access to early education as a lever for economic outcomes.
And it means some children miss out on the benefits of early education.
This is not inclusion. Because of course it is often the children who would benefit the most from early education and care that are most impacted by the Activity Test.
Our environments and policies once children are at our settings are vitally important for inclusion – but so is access in the first place.
What is our role as educators and teachers to ensure access to what we provide by all children?
- Do I fully understand how the Activity Test stops some children’s inclusion in education and care?
- What can I do as an educator to try and stop this from happening and publishing the fact that it does?
- Who else is excluded from accessing education and care and why?